The largest data centers on the planet can house upwards of 12,000 server racks that require 100 megawatts of power each. Almost half of that power pull is due to cooling. Large or small, data centers require cooling systems that keep equipment functional and data secure. Temperatures that exceed 77-degrees Fahrenheit can be detrimental to IT hardware. Considering that the racks themselves generate their own heat, cooling costs can be significant, but not unimportant. However, there are ways to mitigate cooling costs without compromising server integrity.
Large data centers are located in areas with low energy costs, high quantities of local computing talent and a low risk of natural disasters. In truth, data centers can exist anywhere. Small to mid-size data centers are found on company campuses or in-house server rooms. Regardless of size and location, all data centers are designed to withstand the risks inherent to their locations’ environment.
Servers and other information technology equipment are designed to protect themselves in the event of high temperatures. Servers will shut-down automatically when temperatures become high enough to damage internal parts and data. While power outages can bring down a data center, disrupt commerce and frustrate users, power outages by themselves do not usually cause data damage. High humidity, dust and heat can damage servers and in the process corrupt or destroy any data stored on them. High temperatures are responsible for a variety of heat-induced damage.
How Heat Damages Data
Some data centers consistently run at temperatures high enough to degrade servers but not high enough to trigger a shut-down. Over time, high temperatures degrade a server’s lifespan.
Internal mechanisms like circuit boards and coils can overheat and sustain damage. If humidity is high, then dust will cling to electronic circuitry and heat will bake this debris into server components. This results in glitches and malfunctions, even in new equipment. When a company depends on data speed, prematurely aged equipment is not helpful. In terms of data damage, heat can corrupt files and damage information housed on hard drives.
While all of this might seem intimidating, cooling problems have been documented and solved since the late 1990s. At first, raised floor solutions allowed cool air to flow between server aisles. While still in use, environmental concerns have created an interest in other options like external cooling and liquid cooling. For more information about retrofits and cost-effective cooling options, please reach out to us at 408-295-2182.